5 days ago
Monday, May 25, 2015
Atrial fibrillation, which is rather common in folks over 65, seriously folded me into its ranks early this month. I don't feel terribly unique as it affects 2.6 million people in the US. While it is common and potentially serious, it is also treatable and people can live long, normal lives with this condition.
Mine started years ago as a rare episode of rapid, irregular heartbeats that would last at most for a few minutes then disappear for many months. However is it a progressive condition and mine has progressed which it is inclined to do with age.
I did not seek treatment for it seemed innocent enough at the time. Then several weeks ago, I had three episodes that occurred every other day and lasted for about 16 hours each. OK, now it had my attention. I was finally scared enough to seek help.
Afib will not kill you but one possible side effect with this condition is stroke. The irregular rhythms can cause you to throw a clot which can become lodged in the brain and cause serious damage. Not something to ignore.
The primary treatment to prevent a stroke is to keep the blood thin with anticoagulants--the most common is Coumadin which is basically rat poison. That alone kept me from seeking treatment for many years. It requires constant monitoring and a strict diet, besides who wants to take rat poison for the rest of their lives. I am allergic to aspirin so that simple measure was out.
After a long sit down with Dr. Google, I immediately quit all caffeine (bye-bye coffee and chocolate), salt, allergy meds and NSAIDs for arthritis. These are known triggers. I had just started taking Aleve for my arthritis. Not sure if that might not have been the trigger for the long episodes but no more NSAIDs just in case.
Those efforts stopped the long episodes but I knew I needed more help. I tried to get in to see a cardiologist but they require a referral. My only doctor for years has been my urologist and he wouldn't do. So I had to become a new patient of a general practitioner so I could be properly referred. Grrr.
My new family doctor did a complete blood panel on me and the results were delightfully encouraging. All my levels were normal or better. He said I had better numbers than most 30 year olds. That perked me up. At least I could scratch diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol off my list. Even with his referral it took weeks to get an appointment with the cardiologist.
The main reason for this post is not about what is happening to me but what I have found. You know I am HUGE on finding something simple for a sticky situation. Even with the drug, I will most likely still have the episodes but at least the fear of stroke will be reduced. Still that doesn't help a whole bunch when awakened in the wee hours by the crazy heartbeat. By scouring the Web, I may have found something simple to help with that.
One of the many site I visited suggested that often just listening to a normal heartbeat could be beneficial in restoring a proper rhythm. The other night I awoke once again to the wild thumping so I found a heart rhythm site on YouTube and listened to the normal heartbeat while playing solitaire on the computer for distraction.
Instead of lasting for 16 hours, listening to the normal beat lowered my heart rate from an 165 irregular beats per minute to a nice steady 60 bpm in little over half an hour. I am sure anxiety feeds the erratic rhythms and the reassuring slow beats from my computer were quite calming. This might also work for people who suffer panic attacks.
So I thought, what if I could mimic that sound without having to get out of bed? Am I lazy or what? That is when I found this item.
This is a Baby Sound Spa which has a variety of sound buttons such as ocean, thunderstorm, summer night, white noise and brook, but most importantly, it has the heartbeat one. Now I can use the sound of the ocean to put me to sleep but if I awake thumping erratically, I can switch to the heartbeat mode and calm my wayward heart.
The good thing about a no salt diet is that food tastes really blah with out it so there is no desire to load my plate with boring food. Since leafy greens are not particularly good due to the abundance of Vitamin K in them which has a clotting factor, I am regularly added raw carrots and raw veggies to my red-meatless meals for that crunch.
This has the great affect of slowing my eating down enormously. Unless you are a rabbit, you can't wolf down a carrot. It requires lots of chewing. My meal time lasts longer and I eat less. A win/win and you are right again Manzi.
I have lost 8 pounds so far with no trouble. All in all, I am hugely optimistic and not really worried.Tomorrow is my appointment so I will know more then.
I just wanted to let those of you who are also part of the 2.6 million that there are some non-toxic helpers for the unpleasant aspects of this condition like this Baby Sound Spa. Hope this helps those of you who have it or know someone who does.
Stay well my friends.
at 5:05 AM Posted by Arkansas Patti